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    Behind the Hand Signals Used at Restaurants

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    Geo Beats

    by Geo Beats

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    Restaurant employees don’t want you to see that they use hand signals – to save time, make your experience enjoyable, and have fun.

    In crowded, noisy restaurants, diners often use hand signals when they need something like the check. What restaurant employees don’t want you to see is they also use hand signals – to save time, make your experience enjoyable, and have fun.

    Back in 1944, Stork Club owner, Sherman Billingsley, told Life magazine about his signals like fiddling with his tie if he was covering someone’s check.

    Other restaurants have followed. A quick hand motion is just faster than noting details on paper or computer, or walking to deliver messages. BLT Steak’s Manager Adam Sanders saves 20 minutes during a shift. If a hand’s over a lapel, Sanders knows help is needed. Other restaurant servers and managers use cues like holding out a palm to have bread refilled or brushing their shoulder to have tables cleaned.

    All this helps provide diners with a seamless experience. In some restaurants a sideways “V” signals a VIP. Pointing to the ring finger means an anniversary. Guests feel special when employees know about them and their preferences.

    Plus, the whole staff’s often involved. When out of a dish, a cook slashes one hand across the neck. When a server’s talking too long, a hand makes small circles to “wrap it up.” Other signals are up to the staff’s imagination and humor. Chef Patrick O’Connell, says efficiency’s great, but “If you can make it fun at the same time, wonderful.”